New Comic Book Day Pull-List: 'The Wake' #1, 'Adventure Time Annual' #1, And More Reviewed

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Welcome to MTV Geek's New Comic Book Day Pull-List! Each Wednesday, we'll look at the best new releases hitting comic shops (but because of the Memorial Day holiday, shipments were delayed this week, so we're posting on Thursday instead).

This time around we've got picks from DC/Vertigo, Marvel and Kaboom!

"The Wake" #1

(written by Scott Snyder, illustrated by Sean Murphy, published by DC Comics)

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This is the first taste of Vertigo's new science-fiction/horror title by author Scott Snyder ("American Vampire," "Batman") and artist Sean Murphy ("Punk Rock Jesus").  I've been excited about this book from the moment it was announced, and reading this issue was a constant series of surprises.  This is an impressive opening chapter, with a lot of strange and fascinating elements to consider and puzzle over.  Three pages in, I thought it was going to be "Tank Girl" with dolphins.  A couple pages later, it was more like a nature special on aquatic wildlife.  And a few pages after that, it was suddenly a riff on "The Abyss" or "The Deep. " Or actually, maybe "The Hunt for Red October."  Except that by the time I'd figured that out, it was off in yet another direction.

I've gone back and flipped through this issue a couple times already, marveling at Snyder's economical text and Murphy's detailed images, studying the panels for more clues.  This is mostly set-up, but it's really intriguing set-up – if you like mysteries, or marine biology, or sci-fi, or just plain good comics, this is worth checking out.

X-Men #1

(written by Brian Wood, illustrated by Oliver Coipel and Mark Morales, published by Marvel Comics)

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I know, I know.  It's another "X-Men" series, another #1, another twist on something you think you've seen a million times before.  I'll freely admit that when I first heard of this series, I was skeptical.  I've read so many "X-Men" comics, seen so many mutant titles launched with immense fanfare, only to be replaced by a newer, flashier mutant title within a few years.  This would have to be something pretty special to get my attention and hard-earned cash.

The good news is, it IS that special.  For starters, it focuses on the women of the X-Men: Storm, Rogue, Psylocke, Kitty Pryde, Rachel Grey, and Jubilee.  And while that could easily come off as a gimmick, it ends up working beautifully – these are established, well-developed characters, and author Brian Wood does a phenomenal job portraying their individual voices and playing them off one another.

Many other elements that go into making this an impressive first issue.  It's accessible, for one.  Wood guides the tempo masterfully, opening with two pages to bring the reader up to speed, then accelerating straight into the body of the story.  Each scene reveals a different facet of the characters, laying groundwork for the next few issues.

It also looks beautiful.  Olivier Coipel's art is crisp and vivid, giving each character their own visual personality, conveying endless information with each tiny expression and gesture.  The page layouts are playful, but never confusing.  Mark Morales' inks and Laura Martin's colors compliment each other perfectly, and bring extra layers of form and dimension to every panel.

And it's sexy.  Not in the woman-objectifying exaggerated-anatomy adolescent style of so many superhero comics, though.  It's sexy like a classic thriller, like an ice-cold beverage, like a European sportscar: sleek, classy, and dynamic.  It hits all the right notes for a first issue: welcoming readers, introducing and advancing a storyline, building on characters' personalities, and delivering a couple prime action sequences, just for good measure.

"Adventure Time Annual" #1

(by various writers and artists, published by KaBOOM! Studios)

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KaBOOM's "Adventure Time" comic is one of the great success stories of the last couple years, and this extra-length special perfectly illustrates their recipe for success: unleash top-flight indie talent on the Land Of Ooo, stand back, and see what brilliance ensues.

The first story here is by the phenomenal Roger Langridge, and in a few short pages, he exhibits the droll humor and whimsy that made his "Snarked" and "Muppet Show" comics so enjoyable, tossing Finn and Jake into a rewritten, Adventureised version of the classic pop song 'A You're Adorable'.  That's followed by Alex Cox's tale of an enchanted board game, an funky hip-hop interlude by Bryce Carlson and Dustin Nguyen, a four-page Ice King piece by Josh Williamson and Jason Ho, and a twisted story of Finn's backpack by Derek Fridolfs, and lastly, Kory Bing and Sfé Monster give us a look into the land of Lemongrab.  Each creator picks a different corner of the Adventureverse to focus on, and each brings something special to the table  – it's ridiculous how many different styles of fun are packed into this single issue.

"Adventures Of Superman" #1

(by various writers and artists, published by DC Comics)

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"Adventures Of Superman" is a new anthology contains stand-alone, continuity-free Superman stories by some of the finest creators in comics.  The three pieces in this first issue each have their own angle on the character and his mythology, and each is quite wonderful in its own way.

First is an quick-moving tale by Jeff Parker and Chris Samnee, introducing a new menace to Metropolis.  It deals mostly in hard-hitting action and explosive set pieces, and gives a nice little twist at the end.  Next up is an intimate, charming story of two young boys play-acting a battle between the Man Of Steel and his foes – Jeff Lemire writes the words and illustrates, and Jose Villarrubia provides the lovely colors.  And lastly, Justin Jordan and Riley Rossmo bring us a vignette of Superman and Bizzaro clashing, communicating, and eventually co-operating.

I am a big Superman fan, and while the character is versatile enough to support a wide variety of interpretations, the portrayal that always connects best with me is the force of goodness, the beacon of truth, justice, and compassion – the hero.  Plenty of costumed crusaders have flaws and failings, plenty get pulled into darkness and have to battle their way back.  But Superman is the one who can rise above that.  He's the one who works each and every day to do a little better.  And that's the Superman in all three of these stories.